Evaluating named entity recognition tools for extracting social networks from novels

Niels Dekker, Tobias Kuhn, Marieke van Erp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The analysis of literary works has experienced a surge in computer-assisted processing. To obtain insights into the community structures and social interactions portrayed in novels, the creation of social networks from novels has gained popularity. Many methods rely on identifying named entities and relations for the construction of these networks, but many of these tools are not specifically created for the literary domain. Furthermore, many of the studies on information extraction from literature typically focus on 19th and early 20th century source material. Because of this, it is unclear if these techniques are as suitable to modern-day literature as they are to those older novels. We present a study in which we evaluate natural language processing tools for the automatic extraction of social networks from novels as well as their network structure. We find that there are no significant differences between old and modern novels but that both are subject to a large amount of variance. Furthermore, we identify several issues that complicate named entity recognition in our set of novels and we present methods to remedy these. We see this work as a step in creating more culturally-aware AI systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere189
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalPeerJ Computer Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2019


  • Classic and modern literature
  • Cultural AI
  • Digital humanities
  • Evaluation
  • Named entity recognition
  • Social networks


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating named entity recognition tools for extracting social networks from novels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this